Overview of the Work Visa Portugal
The Portugal Work visa allows you to enter Portugal for employment purposes. There are different types of Work visas available and the one you should apply for will depend on how long you plan to stay in the country and your personal circumstances.
If you are a South African national looking to make the move permanent, the Work visa can be used as a route to gain permanent residency in Portugal.
- Overview of the Work Visa Portugal
- Do I Need a Visa To Work in Portugal?
- Portuguese Work Permit
- Working in Portugal – Visa Options
- Portugal Work Visa – Eligibility Requirements
- Portugal Work Visa – Required Documents
- Portugal Work Visa – Application Process
- Portugal Work Visa – Processing Time
- Portugal Work Visa – Fees
- Portuguese Residence Permits
- Permanent Residence and Citizenship in Portugal
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Anyone who is not an EU or Swiss citizen needs a visa to enter Portugal. This means South African nationals looking to move to the country for employment purposes, must first obtain a Work visa from the Portuguese authorities.
In addition, to live and work in Portugal, South African applicants must be granted certain permits from the Portuguese immigration and border services.
There are three steps that South African nationals must follow in order to live and work in Portugal:
- Apply for a work permit.
- Apply for a Work visa.
- Apply for a residence permit.
To be eligible for a Portugal Work visa, South African nationals must secure a work permit before submitting their visa application, and a residence permit afterwards.
What is a Work Permit?
To be eligible to work in Portugal, applicants must have secured employment prior to their Work visa application. Once a job offer has been secured and accepted, the prospective employer will apply to the Portuguese immigration and borders service for a work permit on your behalf.
The work permit does not grant you entry to work in Portugal, rather it is confirmation that you have been authorised by the Portuguese authorities to apply to do so. Once your work permit is granted (which can take up to 60 days) you may then apply for your Work visa.
If you’re a self-employed South African national and are looking to set up your business or start freelance work in Portugal, you will still need a work permit. Applications are evaluated by the Portuguese immigration and border services.
What Documents Do I Need To Apply for a Work Permit?
To be successful in gaining a work permit you must supply your Portuguese employer with any requested documents that they need to complete the application on your behalf. These could include but are not limited to:
- Proof of accommodation in Portugal
- A valid passport or other government-issued travel document
- At least 2 recent passport photographs in colour
- Proof of a clear criminal record
- A work contract between you and your employer
- Proof of registration with Portugal Social Security
- Company tax statements
Once you have secured a Portuguese work permit you can then apply for a Work visa.
The Portugal Work Visa/Residence Visa
The Portugal Work visa, also known as the Residence visa, is the most common visa for foreign employees. It is a standard Work visa that allows holders to live and work in Portugal for up to a year. After this initial period, you can apply to extend the Work visa for up to five years. Essentially, there are two categories of the Portugal Work visa:
- Short-Term Work Visa
The Short-Term Work visa is designed for those on short-term or temporary employment contracts lasting less than six months. It is possible to extend the Short-Term Work visa for up to one year. Eligible reasons to extend your visa could be that you are engaging in Scientific research or highly qualified professional activities, academically teaching, or in receipt of certain training or service provisions.
- Long-Term Work Visa
The Long-Term Work Visa is necessary for those that intend to live and work in Portugal for more than six months. Due to Portuguese legislation, some foreign workers are able to apply for this visa once in Portugal, however this does NOT include South African nationals and therefore you should apply in advance to traveling.
Highly-Skilled Worker Visa
Highly skilled or qualified applicants such as scientific researchers, medical professionals, and engineers are issued this visa. Similar to the Portugal Work visa, it is valid for up to a year but can be extended for up to five years should the applicant wish to stay longer.
Independent Work Visa
The Independent Work visa is for independent self-employed applicants. It allows the holder to live and work in Portugal as an independent trader for up to a year which can then be extended for up to five years.
It is worth noting that this visa does not allow you to work as an employee of a company in Portugal and all earned revenue must be generated externally or online. If you are interested in setting up a business in Portugal, you should apply for the Business visa instead.
The Business visa is for those travelling to Portugal with the intention of engaging in business activity. If you are granted this visa it is worth noting that, under normal circumstances, you will not be able to extend it. Also, you are not able to work as an employee of a company in Portugal.
Portugal is part of a group of European countries that form what is known globally as the ‘Schengen Area’. The Portuguese Business visa allows you to travel to all of the countries listed in the Schengen area to conduct business. This means that you don’t have to keep applying for different visas if you want to visit these countries alongside Portugal.
Job Seeker Visa
If you want to move to Portugal from South Africa but are yet to find or secure a job offer online, it is possible to enter Portugal on a Job Seeker visa for the purposes of looking for work.
The Job Seeker visa is valid for an initial period of 120 days but can be extended by up to 60 more days. It is worth noting that you can only use this visa to enter Portugal once and if you do not secure employment during this time period you must leave the country.
Portugal Work Visa - Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for a Portugal Work visa you must meet all of the eligibility criteria set by the Portuguese authorities. Whilst entry requirements can differ slightly depending on the type of visa you are applying for, generally, you must:
- Obtain a Portuguese NIF (tax number) in order to carry out fiscal duties in Portugal. (It is relatively easy to get a Portuguese tax number and can be applied for remotely).
- Open a Portuguese bank account and deposit funds to support your stay.
- Provide proof that you are financially stable and have the funds to support your stay in Portugal. (The Portuguese immigration and borders service will request documents such as bank statements and payslips as evidence).
- Provide proof of accommodation in Portugal such as tenancy agreements, rental agreements or hotel reservations.
- Have a clean criminal record.
- Have full health insurance to cover the costs of any medical emergencies during your stay in Portugal.
- Meet the minimum stay requirement.
Portugal Work Visa - Required Documents
In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for your chosen type of Work visa, you must also be able to provide Portugal’s immigration and borders service with all of the documents you will need to support your application. The required documents can differ slightly depending on the type of Work visa you are applying for, however, in general you must provide the following:
- Completed and signed official application form
- At least 2 identical colour passport photographs
- A valid passport or other government-issued travel document
- Proof of health insurance to cover any emergencies whilst in Portugal
- Proof of financial stability
- Proof of accommodation – if you are staying with a family member, you must also provide proof of your relationship
- Your criminal records from your country of residence and any other countries you have lived in for more than one year
- A signed SEF form (used to check Portuguese criminal records)
- Your employment contract
- If you are applying from a country other than that of your origin you must include proof of legal residency (such as a visa or residency permit)
All documents supplied as evidence must be submitted in either the English or Portuguese language. If your documents are not written in either of these two languages, you will have to get them translated by a certified translator and notarised before submitting them.
Some documents, such as civil documents, may need to be legalised. You can do this by contacting the Portuguese embassy in the country you are applying from.
Portugal Work Visa - Application Process
Once you have secured a work permit you can then apply for your Work visa which will allow you to enter Portugal. To do this you should:
- Find the Portuguese embassy in South Africa. It is located in the city Pretoria. The exact address is as follows:
599 Leyds Street, Muckleneuk, Pretoria 0002.
- Call or email the embassy to arrange an appointment to submit your Work visa application. The contact details are provided below:
Telephone: (+27) 12 341 2340/1/2
- Collect all of the required documents needed for your application submission.
- Submit your application and pay the fee on the agreed date – (some applicants may need to attend an interview).
Portugal Work Visa - Processing Time
The time frame it takes for the Portuguese embassy to process your application and issue you with a Work visa is typically between two and three months. However, this can be shorter or longer depending on your personal circumstances and the complexity of your case.
Portugal Work Visa - Fees
The fee to apply for a Work visa issued by the Portuguese embassy is currently set at 90 euros and must be paid at the same time as submitting your application. It is worth noting that entry visa application fees in Portugal are non-refundable so you will not be refunded any money should your visa application be declined.
Note that the visa application fee does NOT include the residence permit fee and this must be paid separately.
What is a Residence Permit?
If your Portugal Work visa application is accepted you will be able to enter the country. However, if your stay exceeds three months you must also apply for a temporary residence permit.
The temporary residence permit is a necessary legal document granted to you by the Portuguese authorities which confirms that you are legally able to reside in Portugal. Without a residency permit you are committing a criminal offence and face prosecution or deportation to your country of origin.
How Do I apply?
You must apply directly and by appointment to the SEF (Servico De Estrangeiros E Fronteiras). You are able to submit your application at any SEF directorate or regional delegation and once proceedings are over and a decision is made, the application will be forwarded to that of your area of residence.
There are different residence permits available to suit different circumstances and you should apply for the permit that best meets your needs.
You must supply documents as evidence to support your application. The required documents can differ depending on your personal circumstances but generally, you must submit:
- Your passport or other government-issued travel document.
- A valid visa.
- At least two passport photographs in colour.
- Proof of your income or means of supporting yourself.
- Proof of adequate accommodation.
- Permission form that allows SEF to check Portuguese criminal records.
- Employment contract.
- Proof of tax registration.
- Proof of social security registration.
What Are the Fees for a Residence Permit?
There are two fees associated with a residence permit, both payable to the SEF. They are as follows:
- Application to SEF fee: 83 euros.
- Receipt of residence permit from SEF fee: 72 euros.
Permanent Residence and Citizenship in Portugal
Many South Africans who wish to move to Portugal for work purposes often wonder if they can obtain permanent residence or become a Portuguese citizen. Simply put, the answer is yes.
It is possible to apply for a permanent residence permit or citizenship in Portugal after living and working in the country for at least five years. To do so, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements and pass any required examinations. If citizenship is granted, you will no longer require a work permit or Work visa and will be able to live and work in Portugal as you wish.
How Can Total Law Help?
Whilst the legal process behind moving to Portugal from South Africa can seem fairly complicated at first, experts at Total Law are here to make it easy. Our team of professional immigration lawyers can go through your entire application with you and answer any questions you may have.
We can provide information on Portuguese work permits and explain how they work and what they are used for. We can advise you on the different types of visa categories and then explore your circumstances to find out which visa would be the best option for you.
We are able to guide you through the whole of the application process and check over all of your documentation before you submit your application ensuring you have the very best possible chance of being successful, and advise you on which residency permit you need and why.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Your work permit is valid for as long as you are working in Portugal, or long enough to make your application for a Work visa.
The temporary residence permit is initially valid for two years but can be renewed at the end of this period for up to three more years. After five years of living and working in Portugal you can apply for a permanent residence permit.